FAQs: I-MED's cost savings

Posted on
April 22, 2020
in
Health Services Industry

I-MED have put a position to staff and HACSU that they must reduce costs to maintain viability.

These cost savings strategies are primarily based on avoiding stand downs and clinic closures due to customer down-turn and revenue reductions, and it appears they’re looking for a 10-20% reduction in staff hours.

We’ve received many concerned calls on the following topics:

Can I be forced to reduce hours?

No. Full-time employees are engaged for 38 hours per week or an average of 38 hours per week. Part-time employees are protected by Cl.11.4(d) of your EBA which requires changes to your total hours and/or days of the week and start and finish times to be by agreement and recorded in writing. I-MED cannot make unilateral changes to your hours without your consent.

What can I do if I felt pressured to agree to change my hours but now I don’t agree?

Inform us of the circumstances and any documents that were exchanged. We’ll help you protect your working conditions, and any agreement signed in circumstances where you were unwilling should be retracted.

I-MED have provided me with a roster with reduced hours,which I don’t agree to, and indicated that if I begin working it will constitute acceptance of the change of hours. Is this lawful?

No. Changes to your hours must only be made with your agreement. Contact us and we’ll inform I-MED that you’ll continue to work the hours contractually agreed to until such time you agree differently. HACSU has written to I-MED on this issue and if it can’t be resolved urgently we’ll lodge an urgent dispute at the Fair Work Commission.

If I’ve agreed to change my hours, is this permanent or temporary?

We’ve written to I-MED HR to establish a system where if any employee agrees to change their hours it will be only be done on a temporary 3 month basis, after which the hours will revert to the pre-existing agreed hours. It will have strict conditions.

We note however that I-MED have asked staff to agree to change hours without any indication as to how long that change is for or whether it’s temporary or permanent.

I-MED’s CEO has written to you indicating they’ll only be asking staff to agree to a temporary reduction in hours so, in that context, any agreement to reduce hours thus far must only be considered temporary.

Can I be asked to reduce my pay?

I-MED are required by law to pay you the wage stated in your EBA. You may volunteer to return some of that wage to I-MED but you’re under no obligation to do so.

Can I be stood down?

It appears I-MED are trying to avoid standing down employees by having them agree to reductions in hours instead.

Under the law, I-MED can stand you down if there is stoppage of work for which they can’t be held responsible and where an employee can’t be usefully employed. Whether this is the case will depend on the particular circumstances of your workplace.

If I’m stood down will I be entitled to the Australian government’s JobKeeper wage subsidy?

We understand I-MED have committed to pay employees that have been stood down the wage subsidy in expectation that they will meet the government’s test for employers that requires either a 30% or 50% drop in turnover depending on annual revenue.

If I agree to reduce some hours will I be entitled to the Australian government’s JobKeeper wage subsidy?

If I-MED qualifies as an eligible employer you will be entitled to the JobKeeper subsidy.

If you’re still working and your pay reduces to less than$1500 per fortnight you’ll be paid $1500 per fortnight. I-MED, with the assistance of the subsidy, will continue to pay your income and will provide a top-up so you receive $1500 before tax.

If you’re still working and your pay is above $1500 per fortnight, even with cut hours, you’ll continue to receive that income and I-MED will be subsidised for payment of part of that income to the amount of$1500.

Can I be made redundant?

Redundancy is not a good short-term savings measure. A redundancy can only be made if your job is no longer to be performed because of a change in operational requirements. As the interruption is only temporary it may be difficult to establish that your job is no longer to be performed permanently.

Can I use annual leave instead of reducing hours?

Just like I-MED can’t unilaterally alter your hours you can’t unilaterally take annual leave, it has to be taken ‘for a period agreed between the employee and employer’. Therefore, it may be possible for this to occur, but from what we understand I-MED have said they wouldn’t support this strategy as it doesn’t resolve their immediate cost savings strategy which is all about a reduced wages bill. Unfortunately, if they don’t agree there isn’t anything we can do about that.

We’ve suggested reducing annual leave balances may be a good option for long-term viability as well but, effectively, I-MED have said no.

Can I take personal/carer’s leave?  

If you’re ill or injured, or providing care or support to a member of your immediate family or household who is ill or injured or because of an unexpected emergency, you’re entitled to take personal leave provided evidencing requirements are met.

Can I take personal leave to support my children if schools are closed?

Under the Agreement and NES you are entitled to take carer’s leave to care for your child who requires support because of an ‘unexpected emergency’ affecting them. In HACSU’s view a global pandemic resulting in closure of schools is an ‘unexpected emergency’ affecting your children – and as such you’re entitled to carer’s leave. There would have to be a government order closing schools however. Normal school holidays would not apply.

Can I really accept a new contract just by attending work?

No, the letter dated 8 April 2020 that many received suggested if you attend work on the 14th of April, or afterwards, you’ve accepted the terms contained in the letter, but this simply isn’t true and isn’t the way contract law works. Don’t be concerned about this part of the letter. Our advice remains don’t agree to anything, turn up as rostered and any shortfall in rostered hours vs contracted hours will still need to be paid by I-MED until a formal variation applies.

HACSU is trying to get transparent engagement with I-MED about how all of this will work.

PLEASE DO NOT SIGN ANY DOCUMENT WITHOUT GETTING ADVICE FROM US!

If you need advice, contact us at HACSUassist on 1300 880032 during our extended hours from 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday, and you can send documents, emails or letters to assist@hacsu.org.au

For more information about this or any other industrial matter, members should contact HACSUassist on 1300 880 032 or email assist@hacsu.org.au or complete our online contact form

Health Services Industry